MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The Department of Natural Resources says a huge step forward was taken recently in the fight against Asian carp after President Barack Obama signed legislation to close the Upper St. Anthony Falls lock to boat traffic.
Obama signed the legislation, authored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D) and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minneapolis), on Tuesday. The bill will close the downtown Minneapolis lock, protecting northern waters like Mille Lacs Lake from invasive species, such as bighead and silver carp, the DNR said.
“Closing the Upper St. Anthony Falls lock is the single biggest and most important step Minnesota can take to keep invasive carp out of the Upper Mississippi River watershed,” said Tom Landwehr, the DNR commissioner, in a statement. “This will protect our local economies and outdoor heritage in the north-central part of the state.”
The DNR said it believes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and city officials in Minneapolis will close the lock in a timely fashion. Under the new law, the department said, they have one year to close the lock.
This closure, however, will not entirely prevent the spread of invasive species. There still exists the possibility that people introduce invasive carp species into northern waters, the DNR said.
With the lock slated to close, the DNR says it can focus on other priorities in the fight against invasive species. Those include creating barrier to stop Asian carp from coming into the state via the Missouri River system in southwestern Minnesota. The department is also working with researchers on how to stop the invasive fish from moving up through locks and dams.
The DNR thanked Gov. Mark Dayton for supporting the bill. The department also thanked Congressional members who supported it, such as Rep. Erik Paulsen (R) and Sen. Al Franken (D).